Last week, I shared how I’ve been meal prepping to streamline cooking throughout the week and I was shocked at the response I received. After requests to talk more about this surpassed requests to talk about my favorite underwear -that’s a LOT, friends- I’m here to break down my simple system and some easy ideas to start with.
I have gone through a few different seasons of meal prepping. In the first few years of marriage when I was heavily into my fitness goals and daily training, I did the typical meal prep of making a bunch of chicken breasts, tilapia and greens. When O retired from the NFL and began working from home, I started meal prepping so.much.meat for us to have for both lunch and dinners. Once the kids were born, I essentially stopped meal prepping.
Let me just say-meal prep does take the better part of a day. I don’t know about you, but that sounds daunting. Who has “the better part of a day” to give?! Let me tell you this, friend: giving time one day to give yourself back time every other day is worth it. It’s magical.
As a work at home mom with no childcare, that time is absolutely essential. Our goal is to have the kids in bed at 7pm which means dinner needs to be on the table at 5 on the dot. This means every time 3:45 rolls around, I’d wander into the kitchen and get to chopping, dicing, slicing, roasting or whatever it was and if the meal was more intricate, it starts even earlier. Not anymore. Not. Any. More.
First- why meal prep? Meal Prep reduces food waste and excess spending, saves time at mealtime, provides quick healthy options to ward off junky snacking and ensures there is something in fridge for Oshiomogho and I to eat at lunch time since we both work from home.
Second- what do I need to meal prep? As you know, having a non-toxic kitchen is important to me. You do not by any means need these items to meal prep and anything you have in your kitchen will do, but these are the non-toxic items that help me get the job done:
Every Saturday night I order groceries to be delivered Sunday morning and the big meal prep day is Sunday. The only other day I’ll order groceries in the week-no matter what- is Tuesday evening to arrive Wednesday morning when i’ll do a little bit more vegetable prep or cook something like ground beef to salmon to have on hand for my lunches.
I personally don’t love leftovers for most meals. O and the kids, however, would almost prefer them. Still, I’ll often meal prep a certain part of the meal rather than the entire thing if I know finishing the meal will be quick. I’ll always make an enormous roasting pan full of vegetables, sweet potatoes, rice or quinoa, pasta sauce and fish. I also make a few purees for Zeameh to serve with the bits and pieces of our meals she’ll eat as well. Other than that, it switches week to week depending on the meal plan.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some favorite recipes to meal prep. Now, keep in mind O is vegan, The kids are dairy and gluten-free, I am fully paleo meaning no grains, corn, soy, dairy, gluten, legumes or refined sugar. You can find variations of these recipes that fit your own lifestyle and the favorite foods of your family but these all line up with ours. Also, we don’t eat chicken but chicken is a meal prep hero!
Sheet Pan Salmon
Carnitas– just prepare the meat and assemble day-of
Salmon Patties – make the patties and stop just before cooking them. Store them in the freezer and cook when you’re ready
Energy Balls– I keep in the fridge as a snack for the kids and O
Lentil Chili– cook completely and reheat on the stove. serve with corn chips, vegan sour cream and vegan shredded cheese.
Vegan Black Bean Stuffed Peppers
Cleaning, chopping and preparing vegetables and fruits for everyone to be able to grab and go is a game changer too. Think carrots, celery, cucumbers, grapes and berries.
I hope this helps you if you’re looking to begin meal prepping. With that, I’m headed back to the kitchen to get the vegetables in the oven.